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Combating Greenwashing

In an era where corporations find themselves under immense pressure to conform to environmental expectations, dishonesty and manipulation are bound to appeal to unscrupulous manufacturers. Greenwashing is one deceptive practice that some corporations have resorted to.

Greenwashing is a term used to describe corporate dishonesty where the corporation concerned attempts to conceal the negative impact their products have on the environment by making what can be described as misleading claims pertaining to the environmental benefits of the product or service it offers. Greenwashing is more a claim geared at deceiving than it is a marketing strategy. Thus for instance, a company that manufactures air cooling systems that utilise CFC technology may display a claim that it funds climate change research in Africa. This then diverts attention from the harmful effects of CFC on the ozone layer, to the great inroads such corporation is making in financing climate change research.

The time has come when it behoves national legislators to discuss updating liability framework in as far as greenwashing is concerned. Where no such framework exists, efforts must be made to establish one.

The truth of the matter is that for as long as this practice goes unchecked, it will continue to exist and eventually create a culture of tolerance and impunity. One must concede however, that the case for criminalising greenwashing is not an easy one. As was mentioned before herein, greenwashing does not necessarily make false claims, it often a time takes the form of shifting focus from harmful effects to beneficial effects. In all fairness, there is technically nothing wrong with this. It is submitted that perhaps the focus should be on what the real effects of greenwashing are on the fight against environmental damage and climate change.

For instance, it may be prudent to investigate if greenwashing is not in effect a free pass for corporate giants to destroy the environment. It may also be helpful to consider the benefits claimed against the damage suffered by the environment, lifting the facade to expose the real corruption that the corporation seeks to hide.

It is not enough that greenwashing be frowned upon, every country should have a framework to address this practice with the aim of suppressing it to the possible least levels.

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